It has been two months since U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced his retirement, an event political insiders once thought would trigger a succession battle royale in his staunchly conservative suburban Milwaukee district. Yet only one Republican has emerged to run for the seat.
That Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has so far cleared the Republican field a year before the election is a testament to his political savvy and a streak of conservative political victories going back more than a decade.
“Fitz,” as he’s known at the Capitol, credited his position in the race to his experience and conservative politics.
I am disappointed that this is shaking out to be an ascension. Fitz has been a solid part of the Conservative revolution in Wisconsin and is a quality candidate for this office. I could dicker over a few things, but on the whole, I would feel comfortable voting for him to represent me in Washington.
But Sensenbrenner has represented the 5th CD for 40 years. He has been a great representative, but a lot has changed in 40 years. As a solid Republican seat, this was a chance for a robust primary debate about the state of the Republican Party, the needs of the 5th CD, and what the citizens want to see out of their representative. Is the 5th CD more populist now? Traditional conservative? Libertarian? What about the issues about which conservatives have legitimate disagreements?
The citizens of the 5th CD are being deprived of that internal debate because the Republican Party has aligned behind Fitz. And even if it is not the case, it reeks of smoky back room deals and political cronyism.
It is not too late to still have a robust primary debate, but the window is closing. I hope some good Republicans will consider getting into the race to give the voters a real choice.